April 12, 2011

And you thought they were only in muffins

Ever have this problem…Poppy seeds in gel medium? Or maybe gel medium mixed in with poppy seeds? What…you haven’t?! As I stare at the latest conundrum turning my left brain off has gotten me into, I wonder if I’m the only person on this planet to do this. Apparently, I was too excited about the idea of using poppy seeds in my poppy field painting to stop and consider the ramifications. So now I have three options:

(a) Pick each poppy seed out of medium with tweezers (waaaaay crazy); (b) Throw the entire jar of medium away (too wasteful); (c) paint more poppies

It seems option (c) is the only logical answer.

Here’s a sneak peek at a portion of my original painting still in the works (it’s big…24″ x 36″) that sparked my bright idea. Along with poppies, we’ve got a strange combination of ballerinas and snowpeople in the studio today in various stages of completion. With all of that on my palette, I hardly have time to think logically. However, I’m sure going to try to remember this lesson: One of the smallest seeds in the universe should neverever come near the actual jar of gel medium.

March 19, 2011
















print available here

This week’s challenge over on Illustration Friday is “Cultivate.” Growing beauty begins with cultivating sturdy roots. This means putting in some hard work and dealing with rainy days. Growth happens before the actual flowers bloom.  And that’s not to say that everything “planted” around here blooms, but I believe if you plant enough seeds eventually you’re going to be rewarded with flowers.

March 18, 2011

2011 Vegas Art & Soul

I’m finally back. And no I haven’t been in Vegas for an entire month, except maybe in spirit. Me and two of my very favorite Chicagoland girlfriends met up at the Green Valley Ranch resort for four days of fun and creativity at Art & Soul. Sure there was the art part, but even better was spending time with these two. Also ranking high on the list: The $4.99 all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet; Monday night’s Meatballs-n-Martinis (no kidding); Shopping (Anthropologie was right outside the door!); Early morning workouts at the spa’s beautiful facility; and laughing so hard/loud the resort needed to call the room to make sure we were okay (eh hem.) Then there was the debut of Claire (pix on right) and I on a ginormous stage for Rock Star karaoke which included a little Joan Jett with a LIVE band, strobe lights, smoke and an enthusiastic audience. Thank goodness Heather can’t figure out how to load the video she shot of that debacle. And “unfortunately” I don’t have karaoke photos, but here at least is the art part…

A Fluid Romance taught by Kari McKnight went over a wide range of techniques I experimented with in the painting above. The painting itself is a tribute to my grandparents loaded with meaning and memories.

While I wasn’t sure if Steampunk was going to rock my world, I have to say that I found the class fascinating. Brenda Mattson taught us the history of the Steampunk movement and  turned us loose on boxes containing thousands of inner vintage watch workings and other time pieces to incorporate into our jewelry making. I really got into it. Two more pieces to follow…

A steampunk flower and…

a more modern take using the backs of the timepieces. Check out the gorgeous colors.

Lisa Kaus took us on a color journey in Color My World. I composed a personal piece with a “D” for Daley and a flower for each of my kiddos. I had brought along some samples of their handwriting to personalize each flower.

Last but not least, Musical Cats and Dogs taught by Julie Haymaker Thompson was one of my favorite classes. I made the music box above featuring a little dog at a party. The box appropriately plays “Happy Birthday.” When my kindergartner saw this she proclaimed it was all she wanted for her upcoming birthday. No toys, nothing else, but the music box. Her wish was granted several days ago when she turned six. My youngest celebrated with her music box and a cake made especially for the budding artist she is (Cake post soon!)

If you’ve ever considered an art retreat, let me highly recommend. As an artist, it’s so important to step out of your box and learn different techniques. Making what you learn your own will add new dimension to your work.

If you’re not completely convinced, I was reading Town & Country the other night and stumbled upon this by a physician/nutrionist: “Age 40 marks the onset of decline in areas of memory and learning, but by learning something new in middle age, we encourage brain growth and stop brain decline. Things like traveling to a new place, learning a language or taking a continuing education class keep the brain young.” So there.  And if art isn’t your thing, consider travel (when you can) along with classes that interest you. After all, we have to keep our wits right?!

February 21, 2011

Chocolate Layered


I’m baking for this week’s Illustration Friday challenge: Layer. How about a nine-layer chocolate cake?


You can tell this is an old recipe since the first ingredient reads “1 cup fat”. Almost makes the idea of chocolate cake less appealing. Almost.

February 8, 2011

Do your neighbors know what you do?

I was honored when Joanne Gilbert, a contributor over at the blog, Oh My! Handmade Goodness, contacted me about using my art (above) to illustrate her most recent entry. Check out Handmade Here: Creating Your Local Life which speaks to artists who are often invisible in their local communities. The article also offers suggestions to becoming visible and reaping the rewards of being known as an artist in your own territory. It’s definitely worth a read. Thanks Joanne!

January 21, 2011

My very first gift mart

I’m catching up after a weekend spent at AmericasMart in Atlanta. This was my first time at the show and boy do my legs hurt! There were three buildings of the above with various offshoots that could confuse even those without sense-of-direction issues. I met up with my agent, Renee from Penny Lane Publishing, and fellow Penny Lane artist, Annie Lapoint. Love these ladies. Although keeping up with Renee is a better workout than the most challenging spinning class. I think I’ve earned at least a 3-week gym reprieve.

I quickly become adept at traveling up and down and down and up miles of escalators. Applause for whomever invented moving steps.

When I returned, I had to check my datebook to make sure I had only been gone for two nights. I was really missed by kids and cats alike. My two younger kids needed to be surgically removed from my waist. And poor Penny climbed into my “To Do” box. If that isn’t a big hint.

That “To Do” list has grown even longer after being immersed in a gift mart that was completely overwhelming. I have more ideas and directions to pursue than can be pursued while still fitting in important “to do’s” like sleeping. So for these past couple of days, I’ve been working to keep my priorities in order. Like making Wimpy Kid cupcakes for a special 9-year-old boy to celebrate his birthday today at school. Lego cake to follow. New art and projects to follow all of that. One “do” at a time.

November 8, 2010

Saved by the carrots

Why save the best for afterwards? Since carrot cake includes veggies is it a dessert or a healthy side dish? I’m going to argue for side dish and/or breakfast alternative.

November 4, 2010

A Thankful Check

Those of you who have been hanging out here for awhile might recognize my Thankful Checklist placemat. I originally created this for my kids to color and check on Thanksgiving day while the turkey was roasting. I wanted to make sure they really understood why we celebrated the holiday. Sure we tell our kids constantly that they have lots to be thankful for—health, a roof over their heads, food on the table—but there is so much more. Even us adults sometimes need to be reminded how awesome “a cozy blankie” really is.


Family Fun magazine included my Thankful checklist placemats in the latest issue.  Click here to print out the first version and here to print out the second. (intended for private use only please.)

Here’s the latest version I created for this Thanksgiving, but perfect for any day of the year. And if you don’t check brussels sprouts that’s okay. I’m more of a french fry girl myself.

September 27, 2010

Call me old-fashioned…

…but there’s something about a Mom that cozies up a home. This piece of mixed media art plays off the current week’s prompt (old- fashioned) over at Illustration Friday.

Along with using vintage trim, lace and buttons, I copied my Mom’s recipes onto transparency film. Then I adhered the film to the canvas with a thin coat of matte medium. I added paint and inks to further incorporate the recipes into the piece. One of my very favorite ingredients to instantly age any piece is Jim Holtz Distress Ink in vintage photo. And speaking of old-fashioned life, our dishwasher is finally all better and thus my appreciation for modern conveniences even greater. I can cook and bake once again.

September 14, 2010

A Proverb for Friday (and Tuesday)

“This very moment is a seed from which the flowers of tomorrow’s happiness grow.”  —Margaret Lindsey

Illustration Friday’s weekly challenge (word=”proverb”) planted these seeds of artistic inspiration featuring ric-rac, fibers, lace and buttons—notions that initially had to be flower inspired.

Don’t forget to keep watering those seeds you plant today…in the proverbial sense like “follow up” and the literal like “Water already!” (the former a note to my garden neglecting self : )

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